Course Description

Replays of each session are available to registered participants 24-48 hours after each session. You also have access to the course for 120 days after the series ends.

We continually update our live webinar course content with readings, resources and links to relevant material. This curriculum will be live by January 15, 2024 and if you register by then, you will have access to Session One and additional materials as we get closer to our first meeting. 

This live webinar course is given in a "drip format"-- each week you will have access to a new set of materials as we proceed through the topic, session by session. 

This course includes a Certificate of Completion for Polyvagal-Focused and Sensorimotor Expressive Arts Therapy for 15 hours of Continuing Education/Professional Development-- see information below. You can apply these hours to your completion of the EXAT or EXA-CE designations.

Webinars meet from 12 noon-3 pm On Thursdays,  Eastern US Time/New York Time

Course Meeting Dates:

February 15

February 22

February 29

March 7

March 14

Because we have participants from around the world, please be sure to check your time zone. 

Polyvagal theory is informs many of the principles and practices of trauma-informed work. Stephen Porges is the researcher best known for identifying polyvagal theory; his studies and contributions have greatly expanded the understanding of how we sense and experience safety, self-regulation, attachment, and connection. 

Sensorimotor, sensory integration and body-awareness approaches are also now accepted strategies to address traumatic stress. The majority of these sensory-based approaches are derived from healing practices found in various forms of reparative and restorative expression-- often through movement, rhythm, sound, music, image making, and enactment. 

This course also integrates concepts and practices found in Bilateral Stimulation and Movement and the grounding, resourcing, and orienting approaches central to EMDR-- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Expressive arts therapy is a great way to integrate these approaches and practices in your work with people of all ages.

Most of the current polyvagal exercises and directives for trauma relief ask individuals to think about or imagine various vagal states or conditions for social engagement. While this may work well for some people, starting with cognition is not always the best place to start when restoring the self, post-trauma. Imagination, a mostly cognitive function, is not immediately or easily accessible for those most traumatized. In many cases, imagination and a sense of playfulness has been lost or diminished due to distress, anxiety, or dissociation.  

Expressive arts therapy and expressive strategies [movement, rhythm, sound, music, enactment, and image=making] capitalize on a "bottom-up" framework that begins with the senses. These strategies gradually reintroduce the experiences of play, creativity, and aliveness necessary to reparative and restorative imagination. These sensory-based approaches also provide a foundation for the "talk" that may have been shutdown due to traumatic stress. 

We designed this course to not only highlight these principles and practices, but also to demonstrate how expressive arts therapy and expressive methods expand and enhance polyvagal-focused and sensorimotor, sensory integration, and body-awareness approaches. To help participants learn and apply this material, each session includes didactic, informational presentations and at least one hour of experiential, hands-on time with methods and strategies. These action-oriented, sensory-based methods and strategies can be applied to work with individuals of all ages as well as families, groups, and communities. 

Continuing Education Information

Counselors/National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6557. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC are clearly identified. Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. 

EMDRIA: Elizabeth Warson, PhD, Institute Faculty is an EC Provider #23047 and this program #23047-01 is approved for 15 EMDRIA Credits. Eligibility for EMDRIA Credits is restricted to those who have completed an EMDRIA-Approved Basic EMDR Training. 

Art Therapy Credentials Board [ATCB]. The ATCB recognizes a variety of CEC activities, including those in the areas of professional and mental health counseling. These activities are clearly outlined in their recertification standards provided to all ATR-BCs in their recertification year and on their website. A minimum of six CECs must be earned in the area of ethics each cycle. If you are licensed as an art therapist in your state, please check with your state board to verify what types of CEC activities are acceptable for license renewal.

California Marriage and Family Therapists, Social Workers and Professional Counselors. As of July 1, 2015, the State of California /Board of Behavioral Sciences [BBS] amended its regulations for continuing education providers to include National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) as a "board-recognized approval agency." If you are licensed as a marriage and family therapist, social worker, educational psychologist or professional clinical counselor in California, NBCC Approved Continuing Education Providers are recognized by the BBS to fulfill continuing education requirements. As of July 1, 2015, required CE hours can be accumulated through self-study and distance learning. 

International Expressive Arts Therapy Association [IEATA]. Many participants go on to apply for the REAT or REACE credential with IEATA and use our expressive arts therapy coursework to do so. Please check with IEATA to make sure you are meeting their current requirements for registration and let us know if you need additional information to help you qualify.

Psychotherapy and Counseling Fedration of Australia [PACFA]. Many of our Australian participants indicate that these hours are accepted by PACFA---Psychotherapy and Counseling Federation of Australia. Please check with PACFA to verify this and let us know if you require any additional information for this organization to qualify your professional development hours.

Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association [CCPA]. Many of our Canadian participants indicate that these hours are accepted by CCPA for certain professional development requirements. Please check with CCPA to verify this and let us know if you require any additional information for this organization to qualify your professional development hours.

CPD hours [Professional Development] are currently in the application stage. We also welcome teachers to this course; please contact us for additional information.

Credentialing boards in Canada, Europe, and Australia accept our courses for professional development. Please check with them to verify that this course applies to your goals for credentialing or renewal of registration, certification, or licensing.

Institute Faculty

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT holds a doctorate in psychology and is a licensed and board-certified art therapist and mental health counselor and has published numerous books, chapters, and articles in the field of art therapy including, Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy: Brain, Body, and Imagination in the Healing Process, Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children, Breaking the Silence: Working With Traumatized Children, and Understanding Children's Drawings, which are standards in the field. She has trained counselors, therapists, and teachers throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe. In 2011, Cathy founded the Trauma-Informed Practices Institute to meet the need for professional education in the use of arts therapies, expressive therapies, mind-body approaches and resilience-building in trauma integration and recovery for children, adults and families. You can learn more about Dr. Malchiodi at her website

Institute Faculty

Elizabeth Warson, PhD

Elizabeth Warson, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, NCC, EMDR III, EXAT, EAP II, Certified EMDR Therapist, EMDR Consultant in Training. is the founder of American Indian Art Therapy, based on her faculty research associated with the Graduate Art Therapy Programs at George Washington University and Eastern Virginia Medical School (2004-2013). Elizabeth currently resides in northern Colorado where she maintains an equine-assisted and arts-informed private practice, Healing Pathways LLC. As a faculty member for the Trauma-Informed Practices & Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, she teaches in person and online poly-informed, equine-assisted, and bilateral stimulation/sensorimotor-informed expressive arts therapy courses. Since 2003, her research interests comprise stress and pain reduction interventions for American Indian cancer survivors and their family members, culturally responsive stress reduction and visual journaling, and trauma-informed interventions. Elizabeth is a recipient of a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts (folk and traditional art) for a community-driven Coharie Heritage Empowerment Project, focusing on cultural preservation. Elizabeth received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1989 and an M.A. in Art Therapy from Vermont College of Norwich University in 1993. She completed her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a specialization in research, from the School of Education at Colorado State University in 2008. Elizabeth has presented at regional and national American Indian and Alaska Native conferences on topics related to medical art therapy, stress and pain reduction interventions, culturally-responsive art therapy, visual journaling interventions, and narrative-based art therapy. Her publications comprise over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in books. As a professional artist, she has exhibited her sculptural work nationally and internationally and is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council fellowship award.

Course curriculum

  1. 1
    • Why Polyvagal-Focused and Sensorimotor Expressive Arts Therapy?

    • Syllabus, Goals and Objectives of this Course

    • Walkthrough this Live Webinar Site and Its Features

    • Special Note About Materials and Expressive Arts Assignments

    • What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

    • Disclaimer

    • About the Content of this Course

  2. 2
    • ▶️ ZOOM Link and Supplies!

    • Video: Tips & Troubleshooting on the Following Required UPLOAD AND POST!

    • Print and Download for Session #1

    • The MSSS Model of Expressive Arts

    • Bottom Up or Top Down? An Expressive Arts Therapy Perspective

    • Bilateral Work and Self-Regulation

    • Window of Tolerance: Charts and Graphics

    • The Six Substages of Sensorimotor Activity | A Developmental Perspective

    • Experiences with Bilateral Art: A Retrospective Study

    • Butterfly Hug Chart | An Infographic

    • Antonio Damasio

    • Florence Cane and Bilateral Movement

    • Bilateral Movement and Artmaking: Hemispheric Integration Across The Midline

    • Replay Session One Part One

    • Replay Session One Part Two

    • Please UPLOAD* and POST to Discussion! *Required

    • Warson | PPT 1

  3. 3
    • ▶️ ZOOM Link and Supplies!

    • Beginners Guide to Polyvagal Theory

    • The Traffic Light Model and Polyvagal-Focused Expressive Arts Therapy

    • Visit this Website for the Traffic Light Model

    • Resensitizing the Body Through Expressive Arts

    • Sensory-Based Interventions for Adult and Adolescent Trauma Survivors

    • A Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Approach to Trauma and Dissociation

    • Trauma Tapping Song as Sensorimotor Expression and Healing

    • For Fun: Your Brain on Drumming

    • A Short Term Approach to Trauma Processing: Honoring Tally Tripp LCSW, Art Therapist

    • Art Therapy Meets EMDR

    • The 5Rhythms® Chart

    • Making a Felted Stone

    • Trauma-Informed Yoga Holds

    • Ruth Lanius: A Video Presentation

    • Making a Foil Ladder

    • Warson | PPT 2

    • Replay Session Two Part One

    • Replay Session Two Part Two

    • Replay Session Two Part Three

    • After Session Two...Share Just One Thing

    • Please UPLOAD* and POST to Discussion! *Required

  4. 4
    • ▶️ ZOOM Link and Supplies!

    • Downloads: Tag Ideas & Arts-Based Research Form/Polyvagal Infographics

    • Francine Shapiro: Where EMDR Began

    • Five Movements in Sensorimotor Expressive Arts Therapy

    • Bainbridge Cohen Five Movement Model

    • Interoception and Exteroception: Knowing the Senses

    • The Science of Interoception

    • The Vast Influence of Interoception: A Sensory Integration Perspective

    • Vagus Nerve Infographic

    • What is Vagal Tone?

    • Autonomic Nervous System | Polyvagal Theory | Infographic

    • Ventral Vagal Anchors

    • Dysautonomia Infographic 1

    • Dysautonomia Infographic 2

    • Fatigue Scale Infographic

    • Autonomic Shaping through Expressive Arts

    • Soundscapes

    • A Literature Review Supporting Body-Based Interventions in the Treatment of Trauma

    • Maps of Subjective Feelings

    • Diaphragmatic Breathing Script

    • Embodied Self-Care and Polyvagal Theory

    • Arts Based Research Notes Form and Additional Infographics

    • Replay Session Three Part One

    • Replay Session Three Part Two

    • Please UPLOAD* and POST to Discussion! *Required

    • Warson PPT 3

  5. 5
    • ▶️ ZOOM Link and Supplies!

    • Download and Print Here!

    • Polyvagal Theory: Conflicting Views

    • Polyvagal Theory Criticism

    • Polyvagal Theory and Neurodiversity

    • Equine Facilitated Trauma Therapy and the Role of Polyvagal Theory

    • The Polyvagal Theory and Horses: An Introduction

    • The Rat Tickler: Play and Social Engagement

    • Warson and Lawrence on Physiological Measures and Cortisol | Art Therapy and Healthcare

    • Felt Sense Polyvagal Model

    • Felt Sense Polyvagal Model of Addiction | Link to Podcast

    • Double Rainbow Image (neuroception experiential)

    • New Neuroception Scale

    • Sigh Slides

    • Warson PPT | Session 4

    • Meandering Journal Tutorial

    • Replay Session Four Part One

    • Replay Session Four Part Two

    • Please UPLOAD* and POST to Discussion! *Required

  6. 6
    • ▶️ ZOOM Link and Supplies!

    • Water and Waves: Inspirational Nature Images

    • The Mystery and Inspiration of Spirals

    • A White Paper on the Experience of Awe

    • Film Presentation: The Art and Science of Awe and How Culture Shapes It

    • The Proxemics of Awe | A Little Bit of Science

    • What Awe Looks Like in the Brain

    • How Gratitude Changes the Brain

    • Making or Breaking Compassion | A Polyvagal Perspective

    • Porges on Compassion

    • Nummenmaa Lab and the Bodily Feelings Maps Study

    • Words of Inspiration | Spread the Good Words

    • Some of Cathy's "Word Exercises"

    • Download the Gratitude Film for Use with Individuals and Groups

    • Epigenetics | Rachel Yehuda

    • Historical Trauma | Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart

    • Cathy's Experiential Slides

    • Replay Session Five Part One

    • Replay Session Five Part Two

    • Please UPLOAD* and POST to Discussion! *Required

    • Warson PPT | Session 5

  7. 7
    • Bonus: Pandemic Paradox and Polyvagal Theory-- a Perspective from Stephen Porges

    • Gratitude Movie for Download

    • Polyvagal Institute

    • Steven Porges

  8. 8
    • Final Steps to Your Certificate

    • Course Evaluation

    • Regarding the Use of Material in this Course

    • Final Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About This Live Webinar Series

  • Will there be recordings that I can watch after the Live Webinar Sessions?

    Yes-- we record the lecture portions of the events for replay and you can watch them for 120 days after the event. We do not post the experiential portions of the event where participants are sharing experiences to protect participants' confidentiality.

  • Will I receive a Certificate of Completion?

    Once you complete all the required sections of the course site, you will automatically receive a Certificate of Completion for "Polyvagal-Focused and Sensorimotor Expressive Arts Therapy Live Webinar Series."

  • Does this course count toward the EXAT and EXA-CE designations?

    Yes, of course! This is great opportunity to add to your knowledge of how expressive work can be integrated with nature-based work and understand the principles that support this integration.

  • Does this course qualify as part of the Nature-Based Expressive Arts Practitioner Certificate Program!


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